Our resort constructed a new 1 acre pond about two years ago. The POA did not stock the pond. Our fishing club was allowed to stock it this spring as a rearing pond or grow out pond for bluegill. Our goal was to stock 2 to 3 inch BG and raise them to 6 to 8 inches before relocating to other established lakes. We were hoping to achieve this by this fall.
On April 8, we stocked 3000 BG that ranged from 2 to 4 inches. We began a feeding program within two weeks and have been providing Optimal feeds. We started with No. 4 and have worked our way up to BG. Using a clover leaf trap we started sampling the fish in early May. We quickly determined a health population of Green sunfish GSF was present in the lake. Lesson learned was never assume it was not stocked!
Each time we sampled, we removed a lot of GSF. We still get good numbers of GSF each trapping but their size has decreased and total quantity is significantly less. Our BG numbers seem to be the majority last two times.
My question relates to the RW. Growth has been approaching 5 inches and our samples show a significant number of fish this size. It may be due to our clover leaf trap size. We have also used a cast net a few times. While our RW are above 100%, they seem too have flattened out. See data below.
I have read that you need to feed about 3% of body weight daily to support weight gain in an aquaculture environment. Since we are growing them to relocate to other ponds, should we use this amount. OR When our feeder goes off, food is cleaned up in about 4 mins. Should we increase the time on the feeder till food is cleaned up in 7 to 10 mins.
I'm interested in your methods and goals. I've been studying the stocking recommendations for other (my) goals a little while and have not seen anything that suggests such a large stock rate. Did you stock 300, or 3,000?
No predators stocked in the Pond?
How do you plan to harvest all those little guys?
I hope someone gets back to you on this that knows more about how to accomplish your goals. My understanding is so limited, but I would expect that you would have very stunted BG in that type of environment. I would think that even if you fed enough to get the fish to grow to your goal, your chemistry is going to be all out of whack and you'll end up with high NH3 or something. Hopefully no big fish kills. Anyone with knowledge want to elaborate?
Not much of an advice guy, but here are a few of my initial thoughts based on raising thousands of CNBG in a 1/4 acre pond here in Hooterville.
FLX asked the first question I would have asked. How are you going to get them out? At the volume you're wanting, cast nets alone won't do it. Since your pond is a production pond, and not a recreational pond, getting those fish out when they're the size you want is very important. I use a commercial seine net here, but that's not required. More inexpensive nets are available, and when I used them, I'd just zip tie smaller nets together. Ewest has some great info on partial seines, and I would follow his advice if he sees this thread.
If you're targeting the 5" BG for fish food size, then you're probably not feeding the smaller BG enough. BG can get very aggressive, and many times the smaller BG won't readily feed with the larger BG. I would start feeding a mix of the smaller Optimal you started with, and the current size you're using. I do this on one of my big puddle feeders, and everybody shows up to eat. I hand feed my CNBG in my hatchery pond, but I use the same technique. The small 2.2mm pellets I throw are eatten at a near 8-1 ratio to the 3/16" pellets. The 1/8" pellets are eaten at a 4/1 ratio. That lets me know exactly what size class of CNBG are eating. The larger BG will almost always target the larger food first, and mixing food size gives the smaller BG a chance to eat and grow.
Adding another feeder in a different location would probably be more productive than just extending the single feeder's throw time. Pond's without cover are like roulette wheels, in that fish will roam until they find a favorable spot to stop. Feeders do create that spot.
I always assume there's predators in an uncontrolled pond, so the actual numbers you stocked may now be lower than expected. GSF will also really hurt BG fry, and it sounds like you may have a large number of those also.
Last thing is to know the size of your predators that'll be dining on the BG once they're moved. I would think 6-8" is a good target for breeders, but you'll probably need to remove a good number of smaller BG also. If not, the biomass numbers could get be a problem, and you're more likely to get a bunch of stunted BG. If available, I'd stock those in the fishing ponds that have the most hard cover. If the cover is vegetation based, then it all goes away when the water cools off, and those smaller fish probably won't last through winter. That's not a bad thing, it's just a thing.
Just my thoughts about how I'd proceed.
Hopefully the smarter guys will chime in, and please keep us undated about how you handle this. We'll all learn from you.
I've never PERSONALLY found that GSF have negative effects in larger ponds. They only spawn annually and BG never stop.
That said, over time and without predators, GSF will spread their genes and there's not a whole lot that can be done. If you add them to a large impoundment with predators/bass they get eaten pretty quickly due to being more fusiform than BG. I have a 1/4 acre pond full of them with 15 catfish as predator. That's not enough but I don't worry about it. I occasionally seine it and transfer the GSF to my one acre pond that has bass. When fishing, I think I've only caught one and it was a monster with pretty well watered down genes.
I would bet that the GSF came from the hatchery or upstream from another impoundment. They don't just appear and I don't buy the bird theory.
It's not about the fish. It's about the pond. Take care of the pond and the fish will be fine. PB subscriber since before it was in color.
Without a sense of urgency, Nothing ever gets done.
Boy, if I say "sic em", you'd better look for something to bite. Sam Shelley Rancher and Farmer Muleshoe Texas 1892-1985 RIP
Appreciate everyone responding to my post. Let me try to answer a few questions that have been posted:
Did you stock 300, or 3,000? We stocked 3000 small BG. I assumed that if they got to 6 inches and about 3 oz a piece, it would be about 560 pounds per acre. I know I am pushing the limits on water quality. Drainage area is about 56 acres feeding the pond. The excessive rain we have received this year may have helped with water quality.
No predators stocked in the Pond? I was not aware of any predators in the pond. But I also thought no GSF were present either. I have had a lot of kids fishing this pond and no one has caught anything but BG or GSF.
How do you plan to harvest all those little guys? To harvest all these fish, we are planning to use an electroshock boat in the fall. Plus when water temps drop, we will use traps and nets to remove fish. Not planning to remove all fish but create a pond that produces BG for years to come.
I like the idea of adding another feeder with maybe a smaller size feed. We are putting these fish in other ponds with existing predators (a lot of stunted bass less than 12 inches). So the idea of a 6 to 8 inch BG is really interesting thought. We have been adding woody veg to many lakes the last few years. Good idea to move the smaller BG to those lakes.
While this might be considered a production pond, we have created a great inspiration pond for kids and seniors. They enjoy catching a fish on every cast.
A few more photos to show the amount of GSF initially trapped. My fingers are about 3 1/2 Inch across for a sense of scale.
I think some of those fish are HBG. Possibly contaminated stocking BG and HBG. The HBG would grow faster initially.
Seine and remove most putting back only select quality BG male and female. Start transferring them as soon as weather allows. 5 inches is big enough to move. If you move some now at your location you may get a early fall spawn if moved into a pond not full of BG.
Ewest, Regarding HBG, would you recommend relocating to other ponds? Culling them?
Depends on your goals. If you are just seeking additional forage and have adult predators in the other (receiving) ponds then a few HBG will not cause a problem. If on the other hand you are trying to establish a BG population in those ponds then cull the HBG. A well managed HBG small pond is a lot of fun for catching fish as well.
Dear Ewest, thanks for all the great information. I have two, one acre ponds that are ready to be stocked. One is an older pond that we drained down and then rotenone the pond. The other pond was existing but leaked. This one was drained and dam rebuilt. It is about 80% to full pool. Neither pond has fish stocked in them.
We have several options to consider. Since other lakes will be built in the next few years, my goals are to demonstrate the best way to stock new ponds and to create unique fishing experiences for a variety of species.
Can you elaborate on a HBG pond and what needs to be done?
MO, I'm no pond pro like Eric, but I will say this: Those empty, unstocked ponds won't stay empty very long. Nature will see to that. It's usually best to stock it yourself promptly to establish the fish that you want, before nature makes choices you might not like and might be tough to correct.
Just a couple days ago I watched 1" to 1.5" long BG swim up a 6" vertical drop of half inch deep water to escape my main pond and swim upstream to my forage pond. A whole school of them would just keep trying and I would see one make it every twenty or thirty seconds. Can't imagine how many made it in 24 hours.
Tiny fish can move in water a person would think is way too shallow for them to swim in. If there are any other BOW's around a big rain event can move fish.
I saw a green heron once pick up a fish out of my main pond, I spooked it, and it flew and dropped the fish in flight. It dropped the fish in the same pond but another 30 feet and it would have dropped it in my sediment pond. So I think birds can move live fish at least short distances because I have seen it happen.
You do not want GSF get established early. They will readily eat most of your fingerlings you stock if the GSF get to about 5 or 6 inches. Don't ask me how I know.
Hybrid Sunfish Ponds Hybrid sunfish are a good option for small ponds because they grow quickly, especially when fed, and they are easy to catch. The most commonly used hybrid sunfish results from crossing male bluegill with female green sunfish. These hybrids are 85 to 95 percent males, readily accept artificial feed, and grow faster than bluegill or redear sunfish under similar conditions. Successful hybrid sunfish ponds require that you carefully follow the stocking rates and harvest recommendations. You can get best growth by stocking 750 hybrids and 50 bass per acre and then feeding a commercially prepared feed of at least 28 percent protein. Commercial catfish pellets are the most economical feed. Never give the fish more food than they will eat in 5 to 10 minutes, and adjust the amount as fish grow. If fish do not eat all the feed offered in that time, you probably are overfeeding and wasting feed and money. A demand-type or automatic fish feeder is a good investment. One problem with hand-feeding is that someone has to be there to do it! Most people tire of the novelty of feeding fish within the first season, and then the fish may become neglected. Installing a feeder ensures that the fish receive feed on a regular basis, regardless of your schedule and availability. Never stock hybrid sunfish into ponds managed for other objectives, and never stock them in combination with other bream species. Hybrid bream will not produce enough offspring to yield good bass growth rates, and they will crossbreed with other sunfish species and create undesirable offspring. Hybrid sunfish should only be stocked in small ponds following the exact recommendations found in this section. Always stock hybrids in combination with a predator fish because, contrary to popular belief, they are not sterile. Most hybrid populations are 85 to 95 percent males and thus have lower reproductive potential. They do reproduce, and they will overpopulate unless largemouth bass have been stocked with them. Hybrid sunfish off;spring do not share the same qualities as their parents and are not desirable. When stocked with bass, most hybrid offspring do not survive because the bass quickly eat them. This prevents overpopulation and provides conditions for best growth of the originally stocked hybrids. Hybrid sunfish are best suited to ponds of 3 acres or fewer. It is important to remember that hybrid sunfish management is for production of big bream, and bass growth will be less than desirable. Bass are stocked primarily as a management tool to eat the hybrid offspring. Return all bass that are caught to the pond to maintain high predator numbers. Also, this is a “put and take” fishery, meaning that hybrids are grown, caught, and replaced by other hybrids stocked in future years. In this sense, hybrid ponds are more like cattle feed-lot operations than some other, more traditional pond management options. Periodic restocking is necessary to sustain a fishery for more than a few years. Record the number of hybrids removed and plan to restock when 50 to 70 percent of the originally stocked fish have been caught and removed. At restocking time, stock larger hybrid sunfish fingerlings (3 to 4 inches), since they are less likely to be eaten by the bass than smaller fish. Restock at the same rates as the initial stocking. You may want to check with local suppliers before starting a hybrid bream pond to make sure larger fingerlings are available. If they are not, you will need to drain or poison the pond and start over when fishing quality declines. For more information on managing hybrid sunfish, request Extension Publication 1893 Managing Hybrid Sunfish in Mississippi Farm Ponds from your county Extension agent.
I am always amazed and appreciative of the advice provided by this forum and the moderators. We are going to attempt to creat a HBG pond in one of our smaller one acre lakes.
We discussed starting to trap and seine a few fish to move prior to the electro harvest. Our temps in MO are around 90 the next several days. It seems we should wait till it gets cooler. I am worried about stressing out the BG and HBG if we move them early morning, low DO, in the pond or late afternoon/evening, higher water temps.
Appreciate any suggestions on timing for moving these fish. Thanks
Tonight I finally got a chance to sample BG with a clover leaf trap and a cast net. I have not surveyed since early July. As background, the BG stocked in April were about 3 inches. My trap results tonight had fish averaging 3 to 4.5 inches. So it seems the lake had a few successful spawns this summer as well. The trap also had a limiting factor due to openings.
Now my cast netting abilities are pretty bad, think a banana instead of a circle. After two throws, I had 24 BG that ranged from 4.5 to over 6 inches. All fish were weighted and ranged in RW from slightly less than 80% to over 133%. Very happy with our growth rates and hoping some of the smaller fish can take advantage of the increased feeding schedule the next several weeks.
With BG and CNBG, I've been told to stock only very limited number of adults (maybe 5 to 10) in a forage pond. Apparently greater numbers will tend to eat too many of the YOY for max production overall.
HBG may be a different kettle of fish (sorry for pun!) due to lower fecundity. Anyway, this year I stocked only 6 CNBG, 3 male 3 female. We'll see how it goes.
I know I have lost some recruitment due to the high number of BG and HBG that were initially stocked. This pond was a grow out pond to get fish large enough to stock into other lakes with existing LMB. We are hoping to rebuild our forage population with larger BG.
We do have a new lake (one acre) that is going to be stocked with BG pairs to see how much forage we can create in a growing season. I was told to use 50 pairs of BG. Does that seem like to many?
Also, was planning to put some FHM in this pond as well. This would be a forage base for the larger BG. Does that sound reasonable?
I got a buddy in east central CO that stocked FHM last fall late and I told him to throw in 2 14" YP and about a dozen 4-6" YP. The pond is literally teaming with small YP. A bit different than sunfish but I also think 1 male on a bed will allow/service multiple females. I would be inclined to double the females to male ratio on BG.
An update on our results. On Friday, we had a significant drop in temperatures (in the 90's on Wednesday) and the electroshock boat was scheduled to harvest and survey our lake. It was very disappointing as the number of big BG to relocate to other ponds was less than 30.
Results indicated that we had three classes of BG from this year. So spawning results were successful.
We did find a significant number of GSF and HBG. GSF were probably 3:1 vs BG. The BG had good growth results from 3 inches in April to 6+ inches in less than 6 months. We did relocate about 50 total BG to two other lakes.
Since the pond is on POA property, we decided to return GSF and HBG to this pond since the goal is to create a pond that promotes fishing. We have created and wanted to maintain a lake that a kid or senior can catch a fish on each cast. An "Inspiration" Pond for future and retired fishermen and fisherwomen.
Our group of volunteers were ready to move fish and all learned how to net fish from an electroshock boat. It was a great learning experience as we got to see the difference between GSF, HBG and BG.
We will try to capture a few more bigger BG in our fish trap. Plus we might even pull a seine in some of the shallow areas.
In the spring, we are going to introduce a predatory to the lake to control numbers. We are determining if it should be an all Female LMB or maybe HSB.
On update on our Rearing Pond or as we are calling it, Inspiration Pond. It has become a major destination during the COVID quarantine times. We have a created a place that families and young children are visiting often to catch a few fish and feed the fish. We installed a gumball type fish food dispenser that has had a lot of use over the last few months.
Using a cloverleaf trap, I can catch 20-30 small sunfish pretty quickly. Our original BG are spawning and seem to be mixing with the GSF. The number of fish feeding when the Texas Hunter Feeders goes off is amazing. We have stocked about a half dozen female LMB to help control the forage base numbers.
I took a sample of a recent cloverleaf event to show the types of sunfish we have in the lake. These fish were all between 2.5 to 3.5 inches.
Wanted to ask for some help identifying the fish in the attached photo. I know that D is a GSF. The others have me puzzled since they might be HBG. Thanks for your help.